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The following stories from the October 31, 2008, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online.


Flight instructors, please share your thoughts

All instructors planning to attend AOPA Expo are invited to AOPA Flight Training's annual CFI Roundtable, from 11 a.m. until noon Saturday, Nov. 8, in the San Carlos Room of the San Jose Marriott. Questions about the meeting? E-mail Mike Collins. Also at Expo, Wayne Phillips, AOPA Flight Training's career columnist, will present "A Flying Career for Me? Really?" at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7. He will moderate a forum for flight-deck job seekers at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8. For more information on Expo, see AOPA Online.


New season, new decisions

Fall flying conditions have taken root. In northern regions and at higher elevations far to the south, chilly temperatures—even snow—have made their seasonal debut. Flying in fall is glorious. But to do so with precision and safety, make some necessary mental adjustments, both for flight planning purposes and to recalibrate your safety margins.


For student pilots who began training in spring or summer, chilly mornings of fall will become your introduction to frost. Even if you have read about the aerodynamic hazards of attempting to fly an airplane with frost-coated wings and control surfaces, don't go it alone when you remove frost from your training airplane for the first time on the morning of a scheduled sun-up solo flight. Get assistance, or have a veteran check your work. The Jan. 17, 2003, Training Tip discusses frost in detail and provides links to articles and regulations helpful to review.


With outside air temperatures falling, your performance calculations need to reflect reality, so make sure to review your performance charts and adjust your selections of power and altitude to the right values for the desired fuel burns and true airspeeds. Don't be casual about this: A Cessna 152 cruising at 6,000 feet at 2,300 rpm burns three-tenths of a gallon more per hour when temps are 20 degrees below standard than when cruising at standard temperature. The wind and temperatures aloft forecasts (FDs) that you'll need to scrutinize are described in Chapter 11 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge . It's also time to track the lowering altitude of the freezing level, which is the subject of the Nov. 26, 2004, Training Tip. This is especially important if precipitation is possible.


For flights scheduled to begin late in the day, use night fuel reserves as a baseline in your flight planning. Carry flashlights and plan to land with at least one hour of fuel remaining, as recommended by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Fuel Awareness Safety Advisor. Any time a delayed mid-afternoon flight seems to be losing its margin for being completed in the available daylight, reschedule or turn around rather than flirt with trouble!


ASA introduces new flight bags

Have you noticed how flight bags have evolved from basic totes to modern designs with specific functions? Case in point: the three new entries in Aviation Supplies & Academics' line of bags. The CRM is meant to serve double duty as both storage apparatus and cockpit organizer, and features numerous pockets and compartments. The Tech includes a padded sleeve to carry along a laptop computer. The largest of the three, the Cargo, has a wide-mouth opening with a built-in metal rod frame for strength and rigidity, and it includes a padded headset pocket and an adjustable hook and loop divider. Each model sells for $69.95. Order online or call 800/ASA2FLY.

Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.


Question: We're "falling back" this weekend, and with daylight saving time ending, I'm planning to work on the night flying requirements for my private pilot certificate. When, exactly, is night considered night for logging time?


Answer: FAR Part 1 defines night as "the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the American Air Almanac, then converted to local time." The U.S. Naval Observatory offers a Web page that will generate a table of the times of sunrise/sunset, moonrise/moonset, or the beginning and end of twilight, for one year. If you don't have access to either of these resources, a rule of thumb is to add a half-hour to official sunset and subtract a half-hour from official sunrise; you can usually get these times from your local newspaper or flight service station. Find out more about night flying safety online and read some tips from the November 2008 issue of AOPA Pilot .


Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail to [email protected] or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don't forget the online archive of "Final Exam" questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.

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